Gold-leafed Spotted Henbit
aka, 'Aureum' Dead Nettle
"Nature has been for me,
for as long as I remember,
a source of solace, inspiration,
adventure, & delight; a home,
a teacher, a companion."
The spotted henbit or creeping dead nettle cultivar Lamium maculatum 'Aureum' has stunning leaves described in catalogs as "golden" but really more of a bright yellow-green to lime-green, with glaze of silvery moonlight, & a faded central white line down the center of each leaf.
It's only disappointing in that it is one of the least flowerful varieties. Its circlet or stubby spikes of pale lavender-pink blooms are more often absent than not, compared to most cultivars that can rebloom continuously May through August at the very least, often longer.
The flower portrait shown here was snapped in August, & 'Aureum' had no earlier blooms for the year. It was at least still blooming in September, when a longer-flowering variety growing in the same container (L. maculatum 'Pink Pewter') had ceased to do so.
Even with limited flowering, the leaves are themselves so colorful that they give the impression of coleus, with the bonus of being perennial in a temperate garden, as coleus is not.
So this one must be grown for the leaves primarily, & when the gorgeous flowers appear at intervals, appreciate those too. It adapts to all sorts of conditions but well watered in loose rich soil, with bright shade, insures vigorous leaf growth.
Its enemies are dryness especially in sunnier locations, sustained summer heat, & compacted soil that drains poorly. Absent these several achilles' heels, it spreads as rapidly as one could hope & is a thick enough groundcover to suppress weeds, though not generally aggressive toward other or larger perennials, hence a safe fill-in plant around large clumping flowers.
Spotted or creeping dead nettles are very cold hardy & can easily be grown down to Zone 5, & potentially to Zone 3. In such cold climates it will die back entirely in winter but return in spring, whereas in Zone 7/8, it is semi-evergreen, though what remains of it at the end of winter will look fairly grim.
Inland or further south it will want considerable shade. On Puget Sound it prefers bright shade or dappled sunlight, & can even tolerate more sun if kept moist.
Lamium purpureum red dead nettle
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